FMCSA toying with regulation of sleep apnea testing

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | 12/16/2015

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration submitted an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking regarding sleep apnea to the Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday.

The potential rule would regulate testing and treatment of truck drivers with sleep apnea.

According to the abstract of the advanced notice, “the FMCSA and Federal Railroad Administration request data and information concerning the prevalence of moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea among individuals occupying safety sensitive positions in rail and highway transportation.

“FMCSA and FRA also request information about the potential economic impact and safety benefits associated with regulatory actions that would result in transportation workers in these positions, who exhibit multiple risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea, undergoing evaluation by a healthcare professional with expertise in sleep disorders and subsequent treatment.”

The advanced notice of proposed rulemaking regarding sleep apnea is listed as not being economically significant in the posting to OMB, but testing can become costly for truck drivers.

FMCSA projects that the proposal will print in the Federal Register in January 2016. That will be the first public disclosure of the proposal. Comments on the issue are expected to be solicited until March 2016.

Current regulations state that “a person is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle if that person has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of a respiratory dysfunction likely to interfere with his/her ability to control and drive a commercial motor vehicle safely.”

In 2013, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that prevents FMCSA from proceeding with any regulation of sleep apnea without going through a rulemaking process. That involves public comment periods, legitimate research, cost-benefit analysis, etc.

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